Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘John Cheever’

Continuity, BlackBerry Shots, pool near Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






streaks of Southern light
splash across concrete pool deck
sink to the bottom


wading through memoir
old gravestones crack and crumble
worn secrets revealed


John Cheever lives on
fine art of the short story
distant memories


pool to pool to pool
we have all been The Swimmer
fighting for our lives






When I travel to Georgia with Mom, we stay at my Uncle Bill’s place on Clarks Hill Lake. Mom likes the wicker room on the first floor with a view of the lake and grounds. This year I stayed in the only upstairs bedroom in the wing of the house dedicated to recreation, exercise, and watching movies. In the past, I thought it a little strange to be the only person sleeping on the whole second floor. But this year, I grew to love the room. It’s quiet. No widescreen TV on the wall, no noise. And it looks out over a sea of Georgia pines on the shore of Clarks Hill Lake.

The dividing line between Georgia and South Carolina runs right through Clarks Hill Lake. I stay on the Georgia side with my uncle; my paternal aunts, Annette and Brenda, live not far from my uncle on the South Carolina side. I reconnected with my blood father’s sisters a few years ago after nearly 50 years. They had not seen me or my mother since I was 2 years old. Small world.

One morning I awoke and saw these streaks of light pulsing through the pool below me. It struck me how they hit the concrete first, then jumped into the water and immediately sank to the bottom. One thing I like about outdoor pools is the way the sunlight plays through the water during the day. Another thing about swimming — you get really good at holding your breath.

My grandfather had a pool when I was growing up. It wasn’t far from the bomb shelter he built outside his new home; it was the 1950’s. Among the things I remember clearly are the few sultry evenings when we swam at night. I also associate pools with John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer. Ever since Natalie Goldberg had us read it for one of her Taos workshops, I’ve never forgotten it. Neither has writer Michael Chabon. In Salon, he calls The Swimmer “a masterpiece of mystery, language and sorrow.”

Who is your favorite short story writer? Have you ever written or published a short story? What do you associate with swimming pools? Exercise, relaxation, water polo, relief from the heat, family fun? Do a Writing Practice on Swimming Pools….10 Minutes, Go!


Lifeline, Lightbending (3), BlackBerry Shots
of pool near Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia, October
2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All
rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, November 14th, 2009, with gratitude to Natalie for all the writers she has introduced us to and made us read in spite of our resistance!

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), PRACTICE — Holding My Breath – 10min, The Vitality Of Place — Preserving The Legacy Of “Home”

Read Full Post »

The center of a Blow Pop. That’s what it’s like to hold my breath. The uneaten half of a Tootsie Roll. I’ve got candy on the brain. Substantial unanimity. For the good of the whole. Holding my breath.

Swimming across the pool. Remember that John Cheever short story where the whole story is about him swimming from pool to pool to pool in his neighborhood? But then when you read further about his life, you find out he lived in a groundskeeper’s cottage on a wealthier man’s estate.

Puddle to puddle to puddle.

The story about the pool, what was the name of it? There was one about a radio, too. They stick in my mind like white on rice. Like white on rice; the rice can’t shake it. I prefer brown rice – more vitamins and roughage. I switched over a long time ago. Unless I’m going to have barbecue hash, Southern style. In which case, I go for the white rice every time.

I have to get Mom to go to that barbecue place in Georgia we always go to. I can’t remember the name of that place either. Just that they have green rocking chairs and a creek running under a bridge you walk over to get to the restaurant. And then you dive up some stairs and it’s always real crowded. And they give those peppermint soft sucking mints at the end to freshen the breath.

Holding my breath.

I hold my breath when I am afraid. And then again right before I’m going to blow the seeds off a dandelion. Remember Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine? When I was a freshman in college an artist friend named Anne introduced me to Ray Bradbury. He wrote a great book on writing. I like to read what famous writers have to say about writing.

I think I like it because I know they are going to say the same things I already know. Practice. Write a lot. Tell the truth. Write every day. Don’t mince words. Keep your day job. Find community. They never talk about the money. I wonder why they never tell you how poor you’re going to be in the early years? Maybe your whole life.

How many writers do we hear about that die before their work really hits the big time. I have heard of writers who become famous and then quit and go back to their day jobs because writing is too much work. That one on The Writer’s Almanac that Garrison Keillor was talking about in the background one morning when I was making a bologna sandwich to drop into my purple lunch bucket on the way to my part time day job.

Holding my breath. I used to take pride in diving into Granddaddy’s pool and being able to swim the whole under length without coming up for air. Sometimes that’s how I feel. Like I want to come up for air. But I’ve already broken the surface. And I know I’m breathing in.

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Read Full Post »

I saw a post early this week by Janice Harayda at One Minute Book Reviews that reminded me it is Pulitzer week.

I like her philosophy of book reviewing. In her post, Famous Pulitzer Losers – 10 Great Novels That Didn’t Win the Fiction Prize and Which Books Beat Them, Janice compares books that didn’t make the cut, to those who won.

Yet when I read her list, I have to scratch my head and think, “Are there really any losers?”

Here are a couple of samples:

1962
Loser: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Winner: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor

1952
Loser: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Winner: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

1928
Loser:
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Winner: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

She also did another recent post that caught my eye about John Cheever who won a Pulitzer in 1979. Remember reading his short stories last year in Taos along with Susan Cheever’s memoir, Home Before Dark?

You can see the rest of the Pulitzer winners at The Pulitzer Prizes.  I don’t know if I feel better or worse knowing many classic books miss by a hair. But then, we can’t all be winners.

I wonder what Joseph would think?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Read Full Post »